London / United Kingdom

London – Great places to dine and wine

London – Introduction

London is a good place to find interesting food and there are some great places to eat and drink especially where they have embraced natural wine.

There are restaurants in every quarter of the city of London but we usually stick to the eastern part of the city as we find the restaurants there to be more interesting.

London – The restaurants and bars

Typical of the places in London that act as a drawcard for us is a tiny place with a minimalist kitchen called pfranco. It is in Shoreditch, so we usually stay in the area where there are some very comfortable lodgings. It holds a special place in our hearts. How the chefs turn out such wonderful food with such rudimentary equipment is a source of constant amazement for us.

However, there is a vibe enveloping this place that you will feel the minute you walk in. Everyone is very friendly here – the chef, the wine staff and the customers.

Within 30 seconds of entering we were being regaled with suggestions from customers as to what we should drink. One customer who turned out to be the proprietor of another restaurant in London with a strong natural wine program started taking bottles down from the shelves so that we could get a better view of them. Needless to say we stayed far longer than we had planned, and had a wonderful time. 107 Lower Clapton Rd, Lower Clapton, E5 ONP.

Also in the same area, just a 20 minute walk away is Bright and one of the owners is William Gleave, a talented chef who we got to know when he worked with Luke Burgess at Garagistes in Hobart. We love the food that he cooks – it is modern and exciting but grounded in classic techniques. A dish of hand dived scallops that we ate here remains the standard for how they should be presented. And the wine selection is diverse and interesting with choices available from throughout Europe. 1 Westgate St, Hackney, E8 3RL.

Two other restaurants that are not too far away are also places we visit each time we visit London. The first is Brawn that is housed is an interesting 3 storey brick building on a corner near Bethnall Green. This is a very welcoming place. The food is based on the very best ingredients, the wine list has many of the classic natural wines (you might even be able to score a Vin Jaune from Domaine Cavarodes or Domaine Bornard, for example) and the service is always exemplary. 49 Columbia Rd, Shoreditch, E2 7RG. You can read a full review of Brawn on our Web site.

A short walk away, in the Tea Building, you will find the excellent restaurant Lyle’s. It is an absolute pleasure to have lunch here. The beautiful windows which dominate one side of the space allow light into the restaurant no matter how gloomy the weather. The food here under the direction of James Lowe might see raw scallops or smoked eel broth or an exemplary salad using greens from Keats Farm. There are also wines from across Europe with depth from Spain, Italy, Austria and France with outliers from Hungary and other central European choices. The service we have received here has always been friendly and very professional (those two things can go together!). Tea Building, 56 Shoreditch High Street, E1 6JJ. You can read more about Lyle’s including sample menus and wine lists here.

Also in the same area (literally just an 8 minute walk from Lyle’s) is a restaurant that we have very fond memories of, namely the Clove Club. It is rather an upmarket London restaurant that serves very, very good food. The meal started very well, the service was excellent and the food was exemplary. However one of us had an underlying medical condition that raised its ugly head that night and they were literally unable to eat after a short while. We tried hiding the fact by one of us trying to eat both dishes but it became impossible. However, when we explained the situation, the staff were absolutely wonderful. They continued with the meal, for one, and when we insisted on paying for both meals (because we had occupied two seats and also there was an expectation that a booking for two would mean two meals paid for) they insisted on only charging us for one no matter how we argued the contrary. This became one of the most memorable experiences ever in almost 40 years of dining!

40 Maltby Street is one of the best places in London for a relaxed lunch or dinner with carefully prepared foods and an amazing selection of the best natural wines from Europe and beyond.

Tucked away under a railway line this appealing bar and restaurant is one of our favourite “go-to” places in London. The food is simple yet very appealing and the wines are all natural and from an excellent range of producers. The staff know the wines well so don’t hesitate to ask for advice.

On our recent visit we were served some absolutely delicious glazed Yorkshire ham and a perfect slice of terrine that was pure flavour due to the level of fat used in the preparation. On the side we had some tasty cheese puffs which were washed down with the La Griotte from Anjou and Lulu from the Auvergne which also helped us enjoy a classic warm potato with potted shrimp salad.

The cooking here is very precise and the chef’s passion shines through in every dish. Great food, great drinking and great company.

We also really enjoyed our visit to Rochelle Canteen where we sat at an outside table and enjoyed clever, yet simple, dishes and a pleasant bottle of natural wine. The restaurant has been operating for almost twenty years since being established by Melanie Arnold and Margot Henderson. The space is perfect for a summer lunch but also opens in the evening. We thoroughly enjoyed a dish of asparagus with hollandaise sauce as well as a delicious tart for dessert. 16 Playground Gardens, London E2 7FA.

This has been just a short summary of our favourite places in London. There are others that we will add to this list when we get the time.

Tags: